Although Laura is abroad a lot filming, and the general consensus amongst her friends is that she is always on holiday, she politely reminds them, she is in fact working. One her closest friends, who understands this more than most is fellow travel TV presenter Hayley Sparkes, who has recently returned from a TV trip abroad of her own, where she has been filming an exciting new series in Taiwan.
Hayley and Laura, who met eight years at an industry event had previously explored a few of the Greek Islands; Corfu, Skiathos, Rhodes and Kos to name but a few. Crete, the largest of the Greek islands located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea, has two major airports Heraklion and Chania and was their island of choice on this particular occasion. This week was the perfect opportunity for Hayley and Laura to enjoy a 'proper holiday' together, spend some quality time with Rocco and Tahlia (Laura’s children) AND to celebrate Laura's 36th Birthday.
The Luxury 5 Star Hillside Resort Daios Cove – Agios Nikolaos
Hayley: This was the first opportunity I have had to travel with Rocco and Tahlia who have both travelled with Laura since they were three weeks old. Despite being fully-fledged mini travellers and beautifully behaved, as any parent will know, travelling with children can be stressful at times, especially with two children under the age of four. However, with a luxury Mercedes S Class Saloon collecting us from the airport (all courtesy of Daios Cove), it took away any hassle getting to the resort and ensured we all arrived in style and felt relaxed.
Laura Hamilton and her friend Hayley Sparkes holidayed together in Crete
Set within the privacy of a pristine cove in Vathi on the North East of the island, Daios Cove has been built across 5 different levels that lead down to a private beach. The views on arrival are stunning as you look out towards the crystal clear turquoise waters below. As we entered the resort the immaculately dressed and attentive staff provided us with fresh flannels, welcome drinks and biscuits of which the children devoured within seconds. Due to the scale of the resort, drivers are on hand with golf buggies to transport you to your accommodation with your luggage however we later found everything to be within easy walking distance.
I was checked in to a large contemporary deluxe room complete with marble lined bathroom, open plan bedroom and a living area leading out to a balcony. I was thrilled to discover I had my own private infinity pool. I later discovered that Daios Cove resort has around 300 rooms most of which have their own swimming pools, the only resort of its kind in Europe.
Laura: I'm always asked "is it better to stay in a hotel or self-catered apartment when travelling with children?" My usual preference for a one-week trip is a hotel if the rooms are spacious enough. As Hayley was whisked off to her room, myself and the children had opted to stay in a one bedroom suite with a sea view. With a separate living room and a total area both inside and out of 115m2, the space was more than adequate. The interior design was simply beautiful and the children were considerably excited to have their own heated pool!
Laura stayed at Daios Cove luxury resort and villas in Crete
Although my two are no longer in a pushchair, the resort is extremely pushchair or wheel chair friendly. The glass box lifts that glide up and down the hillside are James Bond-esque and the resort (that was designed by the architect firm 3SK Stylianidis), evokes the intimate charm of the traditional villages found throughout the Greek isles that are expressed through its elegant, contemporary aesthetic. A wonderful place to spend a week or possibly two!
Child-free girlie spa time and the ultimate family resort in Crete
Hayley: Like most women I know, Laura really enjoys spending time at the spa, but like me, rarely finds time to indulge as we are always on the go. As a birthday treat, I arranged for Laura and I to enjoy a relaxing full body massage at the resort's luxurious Goco Spa. It was difficult to choose a treatment as the inspiring menu has a variety of spa wellness and fitness experiences on offer. We both agreed an hour's full body massage was a great choice as it really did help release muscle tension and we found we were both able to shut off our busy minds, which can be a struggle at times.
In addition to spa treatments, the spa also offers a large heated indoor pool, thermal spa suite and relaxation area. The thermal spa includes a Finnish and soft sauna as well as Mediteranneo and Nimfea reaction showers designed to detox and invigorate the body. It was lovely to enjoy a couple of hours together having a girlie gossip! Fitness enthusiasts can take advantage of the latest sports equipment and advanced body scanners. It is worth checking the calendar for sessions with the resorts resident master of yoga and other visiting practitioners.
Laura celebrated her 36th birthday on the holiday
Laura: Wow, wow, wow is all I can say… the Spa was beautiful and the treatment was perfect. I must admit the experience was all the more enjoyable knowing that Rocco and Tahlia were being extremely well cared for in the Kids Club (which is free for children who are over the age of 4) AND they were having an amazing time taking part in the incredible activities on offer. The Kid's Club timetable includes milkshake making, Greek Dancing, and Singing and Dancing. Tahlia was in her element. The facilities for children are brilliant with scooters, bikes and even a loan toy service! Rocco loved bringing a toy animal back to the room after each visit.
Daios Cove really is the 'Ultimate Family Resort' in Crete, with a children's cinema screening each evening, an upmarket mini disco and a babysitting service, it's ideal for couples or friends wanting to enjoy a little bit of me time together knowing that the children are having the best holiday too. I said it on several occasions throughout the week, Daios Cove reminded me in many ways of an upmarket hotel in Dubai. The attention to detail everywhere didn't go un-noticed.
Dining and Entertainment
Laura and her children enjoyed the variety and quality of food on offer
Laura: Daios Cove offers a wide variety of dining experiences with 6 restaurants and bars to choose from where you can savour everything from nouvelle cuisine dishes to traditional delicacies with a modern twist. The resort's main buffet style restaurant offers delicious food that was truly exceptional. Hayley and I were both in agreement that the variety, quality, presentation and taste of the food was some of the best we had experienced. The breakfast was equally divine and with the diet out of the window we found ourselves indulging in banana and chocolate filled crepes and freshly made waffles with fruit and yoghurt. There really is something to suit every possible taste with a great range of healthy options including daily juices and smoothies.
The night of my birthday we booked one of the resort's babysitters and enjoyed a few cocktails in the Crystal Box Bar. We listened to some live music and enjoyed the panoramic views of the bay. Our meal at the Ocean Restaurant was delicious and in a beautiful setting. However, our favourite place by far was at The Beach House. With stylish cabanas, fire pits and a laid-back vibe, it’s the ideal place to enjoy a cocktail, barefoot whilst listening to the ocean lapping the shore. Our week at Daios Cove couldn’t have been any more perfect. The weather, the company, the accommodation, the facilities, the food and the staff. Daios Cove is an exceptional place and we can’t wait to find the time in our busy schedules to visit again.